Transgender Immigrant Pic ‘Lingua Franca,’ Thriller ‘Only Beasts’ to Bow at Venice Days

  • Variety
New York-based Filipina filmmaker Isabel Sandoval’s “Lingua Franca,” about a transgender immigrant, is among 11 competition entries, all world premieres, that will launch from the Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section.

The only U.S. entry set to compete in the section modeled on Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, “Lingua Franca” is Sandoval’s third work. It follows “Apparition” (2012), a period drama about cloistered Filipina nuns praised by Variety’s Richard Kuipers as an “outstanding sophomore feature.”

Produced by Tony- and Grammy-winning Filipino producer Jhett Tolentino, and by Darlene Malimas and Carlo Velayo, “Lingua Franca” is set in Brighton Beach, New York, where a transgender Filipina immigrant named Olivia – played by Sandoval, who is herself transgender – scrambles to avoid deportation. She becomes involved with a Russian slaughterhouse worker who is unaware that she’s trans.

Venice Days artistic director Giorgio Gosetti said that this year’s selection is characterized
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